Get to Know your Neighbors with a Spring BBQ

By: Sylvia WoltersWolters_Sylvia

After winter, we’re all itching to get outdoors, so why not get to know your neighbors with a spring BBQ!  We’ve made a party for 10 or 100 easy.  There are two key things that will make your event a success!

  1. Plan your work … work your plan. 
  2. When plan A fails, adapt to plan B silently and your guests will never know.

Whether it’s the kid’s ball team, your neighbors, family or co-workers, sharing a meal brings a special bond to friendships.  Breaking bread and wine is a long-standing sign of gratitude between people.  Today our busy lives too often pull us away from making time for these important experiences.  Ask yourself, what is more important?  Two more trips to McDonalds or sharing a meal with friends/family?   I always say you have time – if you make time.  With a little planning, you will bring fulfillment to your soul and enrich your relationships.  Make the time . . .

To start, pick an event date you can spend a couple hours the day before preparing.  Check the weather, if your indoor space is small, use the outdoors as well.

Next, pick a menu with things you can prep ahead and a couple things to have your guests help you with.  Letting guests help gives them the feeling of being needed and provides social mingling around the kitchen with a glass of wine.

First time planning a get-together?  I’ve put together a quick meal and plan to make your event a success!

Today’s menu plan is inexpensive, and EZ!

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Invite your guests, go shopping and make your plans a few days in advance to avoid the hectic dash to the grocery store.  Start your work plan with the time you want to serve and work the timeline backward.  Plan your work – work your plan! Something like this:

Serve time 6 pm –

  • 6:00  – unwrap the meat and call your guests to the table – ready set   — let’s eat!
  • 5:55 – potatoes, salad, & asparagus on the table/serving area
  • 5:55 – assign one guest to get everyone a beverage
  • 5:40 – pull meat off grill, drizzle with garlic butter and lightly sprinkle with ground pepper.  Wrap in foil and let rest until serve time.
  • 5:45 – Place the bread in the oven to heat.  Add Mozzarella or provolone cheese for a fun twist.  Assign a guest to watch to make sure you don’t burn it.
  • 5:15 – Put the asparagus on the grill and cook until the bacon is done.  Pull, wrap in foil, drizzle melted garlic butter on when serving.
  • 5:30 – potatoes in oven at 350 – reheat until heated through and cheese is melted
  • 5:30 – set table and/or serving line
  • 5:00 – guests arrive – give the ladies cutting boards, tools, ingredients and have them make the salad.
  • 5:00 – chops on the grill – watch these, flip 3 times, internal temp to 140 degrees.  A meat thermometer is mandatory.  Place chops to the side of heat source.  Do not place directly above flame or coals.  Prepare charcoal pile to one side of your BBQ or on gas, light two outside edge flames and leave center off.  Check and turn meat about every 10-15 minutes.  Heat drives moisture up and out of meat, flip and it keeps the moisture in your chop.  When chop reaches internal temp (135-140 degrees), pull off and wrap in foil – do not leave on direct heat.

The day prior –

  • Clean the grill.  Make sure you have enough gas or charcoal to cook for 1 hour.
  • Round up enough lawn chairs or seating for your guests.  No worries if you don’t have table space – casual friends are happy to eat on their lap!  Your genuine hospitality is more important than the physical things you have.  Look around – use small groupings of things to set plates on, it doesn’t have to be a formal table.  Outdoors is always a relaxing option if the weather permits.
  • Set out your plates, silverware, napkins, serving dishes, and serving utensils.
  • Prepare asparagus – rinse, holding each end bend until it breaks.  This is the point you should trim the stalks to.  Tender part is from breaking point to the seed tip.  Take 4 stalks and wrap them tight with a piece of bacon.  Place all bundles on foil lined cookie sheet, sprinkle generously with olive oil and medium amount of sea salt.  Cover and refrigerate for tomorrow.
  • Prepare Smashed Potatoes – wash and cook to soft touch stage.  Either by baking or boiling, I prefer boiling.  Do not overcook.  Slice open and pinch to create “boat”.  Place on foil lined 9 x 13 pan.  Take another pan of any size and press down on open potatoes to make them uniform in thickness.  Layer top of each potato with the following: pat of butter, sprinkle with bacon bits, garlic salt, shredded cheese.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until tomorrow.
  • Bread – slice and slather with butter and garlic powder.  Wrap in foil, ready for the oven.  Cheese optional.
  • Garlic butter – melt 2 sticks of butter in the microwave, add ½ tsp of garlic salt.  Mix up and keep in microwave container for tomorrow.  Melt and use for asparagus, chops, and bread if needed.  When in doubt, butter makes everything better.

The day of your dinner – Work your Plan!  Wear something you are comfortable in, dawn a sporty apron, put out some fresh flowers, light a candle and put on your favorite music.  Get to work and enjoy putting on a great get together!

What if---

Special fun for the guys? (outdoor use only)  This takes some prep ahead – make these pieces, leave unassembled in a pile and tell your guests to “pick up your chair on the deck, hint, it takes 2 pieces” They have to figure out how they are going to make something to sit on.  To make extra challenging, put some “extras” that don’t fit, in the pile.  Involve your kids by having them paint the boards with fun designs, finger paint, etc. ahead of time.  Kind of fun, and you can recycle the lumber for another project later.

  • Cut 8 pieces of 2”x8” 4’ long.
  • 4 pieces – cut a 2”x 4.5” hole 20” from one end.
  • 4 pieces – cut 2” off each side of 2”x8”, 30” of the length.

Clean up is a snap if you keep up with it as you go.  I always keep the kitchen clean as I go.  Preheat serving dishes in the oven, put food in serving containers & cover as soon as they are done and wash pans.  When I sit down to eat with my guests, the only dishes left to do are the plates we are eating on.

Pull off the apron, raise your wine glass and toast your guests!  Enjoy and make plans for the next time!chair

Your biggest help in planning can be your local butcher and the internet!  There are many easy recipes.  Pick ones easy enough and you can do the majority of prep the day ahead.  Stay tuned . . . next time . . .

“Hey mom, I am bringing the team home for supper – see you in 30 minutes – thanks, love you!”